By Stan Fagerstrom
In my last column I detailed some of the ways anglers sometimes handicap themselves.
One of the handicaps I mentioned was not learning how to use all the angling tools available. I also told about fishermen who insist all they need is a spinning outfit. They won’t have any part of a level wind reel.
Sometimes the situation is reversed. I know good bass fishermen who want nothing to do with spinning gear. “All I get with one of those things is a lot of misery,” they grunt. “The darn things twist line something awful. I’ll stick with my level winders, thank you.”
|You'll need to use both spinning gear and bait casting equipment to reduce your angling handicap. The angler shown here used spinning tackle to nail this nice smallmouth.
What’s the angler with that attitude doing? He’s needlessly handicapping himself. Somewhere in the back of his mind he probably knows this, but won’t accept it.
Consider the game of golf. Can you imagine Tiger Woods not knowing how to use every club in his bag? What kind of a game would he have when he’s in a sand trap but unable to use the sand wedge that is his best bet to lay the ball up there by the cup?
As I’ve said at least ten thousand times in my casting demonstrations around the country, there are many things connected with fishing about which we can do absolutely nothing. I’m talking about things like cold fronts, water that’s dirty, water that’s too clear, low water temperatures, heavy winds and the list goes on and on. We all face handicaps like that going in.
But ever so many of the handicaps anglers burden themselves with can be controlled. Perhaps not always to the degree you might choose, but well enough to make a substantial difference in the number of fish you put in the boat.
Among my most treasured rewards for having written about fishing for so many years is when someone tells me I’ve been of help to them. Perhaps it was something they read here at the Mack’s Lure web site. They might also have picked up on something I’ve talked about at one or another of my casting exhibitions.
The kind of comment I usually hear in that regard goes something like this: “By golly, Stan, you were right! I read some of the things you said about learning how to use a level wind reel and I picked up one of your videos on casting techniques. I can handle those reels now and I’m catching more fish as a result.”
|You can bet this pretty lady doesn't have a high angling handicap. She'd never catch beautiful bass like the one she displays here if she did.
There are other ways we bass nuts go about adding to the handicaps we already have. We fail to master certain casting techniques. Are you, for example, adept at the flipping method? Can you flip a lure out there into heavy cover and let it settle gently into the water as those who are expert at the procedure can do?
How about pitching? You’ll often find times when you face a situation where a flipping rod just won’t work. Flipping is close combat. Maybe you’re looking at heavy cover, but extremely clear water. Try to flip under such conditions and you’ll spook the fish in the cover. They are going to hightail it out of there before you make your first flip.
But the bassin’ man who can pitch, you see, can stay farther back. If he has mastered the technique he’ll still get a nice gentle presentation without scaring the daylights out of every fish in the area.
As I said in the beginning, there are some handicaps we can do nothing about. But there are many more we can eliminate. Foremost among them is the ability to use all of the tools available to us.
Those bass out there in the reeds, the pads, the piling or under the nearest dock don’t need your help or mine when it comes to establishing handicaps. They are plenty darn good at it all by themselves. The same sort of thing applies whether you’re after walleye, salmon or trout.
I maintain it’s time you and I quit helping them out. Eliminating the unnecessary handicaps I’ve been talking about is the best way to get the job done.